Clean investment: Whole Kids hopes to fuel Asian expansion and NPD with crowdfunding strategy
All of Whole Kids’ products are organic, additive-free and allergen-friendly, and when we last spoke to them there were over 50 SKUs in their range – which Whole Kids intends to rapidly grow with the funds from this crowdfunding.
“Taking the crowdfunding method means we are able to open up to retail investors including our main consumer base of mums and dads, in addition to other wholesale investors and strategic investors, many of whom have already expressed interest and offered capital and networking support,” Whole Kids Founder Monica Meldrum told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“Being a female entrepreneur here sometimes feels like lacking the right networks and the ability to find the right people at the right scale, and crowdfunding just felt right for us as a brand as our main base is the mums and dads, and they would not have access to investing to us like this otherwise.
“One of the main things we intend to do with these funds will be to propel product development and growth. We’re already developing some new product lines that concentrate on minimal ingredient use – I’m talking single ingredient, two or three, definitely no more than five ingredients, so very clean label and minimalistic.
“Eventually, we even hope to expand this minimal ingredient concept to all Whole Kids products, as part of our Clean Food Promise which commits to no sneaky stuff on the labels and no ingredients you can’t pronounce, just honest food from real ingredients that parents and families can trust.”
In terms of growth, the company is already on track to enter foreign markets in Asia such as Singapore and Malaysia.
“We’ve actually just landed in Singapore, and will roll out in NTUC FairPrice supermarkets next month – so I’d say products should be on shelves by November,” said Meldrum.
“The Singapore launch is a big thing for us, as it will really position Whole Kids stronglyon the global stage, in addition to offering good, healthy products for parents locally.
“Over in Malaysia, we’re in distributor negotiations now and are looking to appoint one by November so we can have products roll out there by the end of the year too.”
Whole Kids is also already present in China via Chemist Warehouse, and is looking to expand further to Hong Kong, Vietnam and India moving forward.
Within Oceania, Whole Kids is present in major supermarket chains Woolworths, Big W and Countdown
“Whole Kids has some really high growth targets as at some point, the aim is really exiting the business into an IPO or trade sale – so the plan is scaling up, growing as much as possible, then going public,” said Meldrum.
“The funding will really help in fuelling this growth, in addition to getting some really good personnel on board – We’ve got industry leaders who used to be from Swisse and Bellamy’s joining us soon, so that will put us in an even better spot.”
The minimum investment amount for regular retail investors starts at A$250 (US$177), and every dollar of investment will be a dollar share for the investor. The crowdfund will close on October 26.
About 30% of Whole Kids’ revenue used to come from foodservice to schools – a situation which was badly disrupted when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“We really had to take a major step back and look at our cost structures, and were really lucky that at the time we had just launched into Woolworths and made a bunch of expansion plans that really helped supplement our income,” said Meldrum.
“After doing some thinking, we decided to focus on families and do more of a direct-to-consumer focus which was something we had not really done much of before – it used to just be 1% of our revenue.
“So we launched things like bundles for families and did collaborations with companies doing home schooling and nutrition education – and by the end of it, our direct-to-consumer revenue basically rose 150%.”
The plan for Whole Kids for now is to continue this focus on families and direct-to-consumer, as well as work on understanding the new Asian markets of interest (Hong Kong, Vietnam, India).
“We’ve had a lot of inbound interest and there are really a lot of strategic opportunities, but for now, we will be looking at doing more in-depth market research and understanding these markets first,” she said.